Local & Regional

In the local news:

  • A house committee moves forward a revenue bill will a Gross Production Tax hike.
  • Ground is broken for a new CNG facility.
  • Squabbling over who controls personnel at the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Road Work Ahead

Nov 8, 2017
KWGS News File photo

 

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission has approved a work plan that calls for repairing or replacing nearly 400 county bridges and improving more than 800 miles of county roads over the next five years.

About $926 million in federal, state, local and tribal funds will go toward the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges plan that was approved on Monday. The plan is administered by the state Department of Transportation.

State of Oklahoma

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed Oklahoma County assistant district attorney Scott Rowland to the state Court of Criminal Appeals.

Rowland has spent nearly 11 years as first assistant district attorney in Oklahoma Count. He previously was an attorney for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control and is a former Oklahoma assistant attorney general.

As an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma County, Rowland prosecuted capital murder, racketeering and conspiracy cases.

OU

 

After a series of small to moderate earthquakes in central Oklahoma, two companies are being told to reduce the amount of wastewater they inject into the ground.

About a dozen quakes have struck just south of Hennessey, about 45 miles northwest of Oklahoma City since Oct. 31, the largest being a magnitude 4.1.

There are no reports of injury or severe damage.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner says Choate Disposal Service and Chaparral Energy were told to reduce their injection of wastewater in the area.

Oklahoma House/KWGS News

 

 A key Oklahoma House budget panel has passed a broad range of tax increases to shore up a hole in the budget, sending a signal that House leaders could be willing to give the package a vote on the floor this week.

The House budget committee on Tuesday voted 19-6 for the same package of taxes that cleared the full Senate a day earlier. It includes an additional tax of $1.50-per-pack on cigarettes, 6 cents on gasoline and diesel and a hike in the gross production tax on oil and gas from 2 percent to 4 percent.

KWGS News

What will be the largest capacity natural gas fueling station in the state is being built in northeast Tulsa. It’s being built along the I-44 CNG Corridor, linking St. Louis and Dallas. Oklahoma Energy Secretary Michael Teague was there for the groundbreaking. He says more infra-structure, like the new station, is needed for natural gas vehicles to make it more convenient for drivers.

The natural gas company, Sparq is building the station along I-44 at 129th East Avenue. It’s the company’s 5th CNG station in Oklahoma.

Lankford's office

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be able to finish his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

  •  The state senate approves a budget measure that failed in the house.
  • The state health department needs a $30-million fix.
  • A Tulsa house fire kills two adults.

Tulsa Fire Department-Facebook

A man and a woman have been found dead following a house fire in north Tulsa.

District Fire Chief Bryan Hickerson told reporters that firefighters were called to the home about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday and found the couple inside the home after bringing the fire under control.

He said the couple had two children who were not at home at the time. The names of the victims have not been released.

State Senate

 

In a late afternoon meeting Monday, the Oklahoma Senate amended a special session House budget bill to make it into a long-awaited "grand bargain" to fill the state's $215 million budget hole — then passed the bill.

Senate leaders discuss agreement.Senate leaders talk to Capitol press following Monday's 37-5 vote on bipartisan revenue bill. Pictured are Appropriations Vice Chair Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona; Appropriations Chair Sen. Kim David, R-Porter; Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus; and Majority Leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.Credit State SenateEdit | Remove

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation got approval Monday to issue bonds for its contribution to funding to finish the Gilcrease Expressway.

ODOT may issue up to $70 million in bonds for the project in anticipation of federal grants to INCOG. The bonds will be issued in the spring of 2018, making funding for the project available before the federal grants are available.

Oklahoma Watch

The financial mismanagement of the state health department is going to be expensive. Interim Department Director Preston Doerflinger say it will take an infusion of cash to stop the bleeding.

He is asking the legislature for an emergency supplemental appropriation of $30-million to pay bills and make payroll. There is no word on where the cash-strapped legislature will find that kind of money.                        

Tulsa Sheriff's Office

The Tulsa Sheriff will add some psychological testing to background checks for jail guards. At least six Tulsa County officers have been arrested and fired since summer. Most are in roles as detention officers. Sheriff Vic Regalado admits it seems like a lot in a short period of time, but says his office remains committed to transparency on these cases. He does say another aspect will be added to the background checks, psychological tests for potential new employees.

Regalado says ‘violations of the law and the public’s trust will not be tolerated by his agency’.

 

One of the nation's top rating agencies is issuing Oklahoma a "credit negative" warning amid the state Legislature's inability to close a $215 million hole in its budget for the current fiscal year.

Moody's Investor Service issued the credit outlook for Oklahoma Monday in its latest credit bulletin on U.S. public finance.

The rating agency noted that while the estimated budget gap is only 4 percent of general fund spending, it is meaningful. It pointed specifically to the legislative budget impasse that has stretched on for nearly six weeks.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

 

Oklahoma's attorney general is refusing all political donations from prescription drug manufacturers and distributors.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, who's seeking election in 2018 to a four-year term, received $3,500 in donations from political action committees associated with drugmakers in July and August. He returned those donations last month.

 Hunter has prioritized battling the opioid epidemic since he was appointed in February by Gov. Mary Fallin. He's helped create and is the chairman of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse.

Mental Health Cuts Could Cut Intervention Funding

Nov 6, 2017
Studio Tulsa

Everyone is watching to see how the legislature funds mental health programs in the state.  Among those paying close attention is Gail Lapidus. She is the Director of Tulsa’s Family and Children Services.

She says it is no exaggeration to say “lives are on the line” if services are cut. The center oversees the COPES Mental Health Intervention program. The program responds to around six suicide calls per day in Tulsa. It state funding is slashed that program could be without funding.                     

Oklahoma Watch

We should learn more today about the financial crisis in the state health department. A news conference is set for this afternoon with interim director Preston Doerflinger.

A highly critical audit of the department has already led to several resignations, including long time director Terry Cline.

In the local News:

  • State mental health cuts could hurt suicide prevention programs in Tulsa as well as students with ADD.
  • The State Health Department holds a news conference later today on its fiscal problems.
  • A plane crash at Alva leaves on man dead.

 

  Authorities in northwestern Oklahoma say a 61-year-old flight instructor is dead following the crash of a single-engine aircraft in Woods County.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the crash occurred about 5:30 p.m. Saturday as the aircraft was approaching the Alva Municipal Airport. Troopers say a preliminary investigation indicates the aircraft experienced a mechanical failure during descent and that its landing gear struck some power lines. Authorities say the small aircraft struck some trees, plummeted to the ground and burst into flames.

OKC Fire

 

No injuries were reported when a fire damaged a single floor at a vacant high-rise building in downtown Oklahoma City.

Dark smoke poured from windows at the 33-story First National Center shortly before noon Sunday. Officials say the fire was contained to the 26th floor of the unoccupied building and did not spread to adjacent floors.

Bedlam sure lived up to its name. Baker Mayfield passed for a school-record 598 yards and 8th ranked Oklahoma outlasted Number 11 Oklahoma State 62-52 Saturday in one of the highest-scoring games in the rivalry. Marquise Brown caught nine passes for a school-record 265 yards, and he had touchdown receptions of 84 and 77 yards for the Sooners. OU gained 785 total yards in Stillwater.

An Oklahoma panel will consider providing millions for two key programs that are in jeopardy amid a state budget crisis.

The Tulsa World reports that the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Board of Directors will consider providing $1.81 million for senior nutrition services, and $1.27 million for mobile crisis response teams that offer behavioral health services to children. The board is expected to vote on Nov. 14.

KWGS News File Photo

The Oklahoma City and Tulsa school districts are being allowed to intervene in a lawsuit by charter schools over funding.

An Oklahoma County district court judge ruled Friday that the two can join the lawsuit by the Oklahoma Public Charter Schools Association against the state Board of Education.

District officials say each stands to lose $1 million to $1.5 million if the lawsuit succeeds.

KWGS News-File photo

Two Republican former Oklahoma state representatives have been named directors of U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies in Oklahoma.

The U.S.D.A. announced Saturday that former Rep. Scott Biggs of Chickasha was appointed by President Donald Trump as Farm Service Agency state director and Lee Denney of Cushing was named Rural Development state director.

Biggs announced his immediate resignation from the state House on Thursday. Denney was term--limited and did not seek re-election in 2016.

File photo

The mayor of McAlester says at least some water service has been restored to most of the approximately 28,000 city and rural customers who lost service, including the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Mayor John Browne says one of the city's four pumps was working Saturday after a fire and a water line break shut off service, but the system will be shut down for about four hours starting at 7 a.m. Sunday for repairs.

Browne says pumps and fire trucks maintained water pressure at the hospital in the city of about 18,000, about 105 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

State of Oklahoma

Oklahoma state Treasurer Ken Miller says the state collected 10.6 percent more revenue in October than in October 2016, with nearly 19 percent of the increase due to the elimination of some tax exemptions and rebates and some new fees.

Miller said Friday the treasury collected $980.2 million in October, an increase of $90.4 million from the same month last year and called the growth encouraging.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission says $17.8 million of the increase comes from bills passed during the regular Legislative session.

File photo

A lawsuit is challenging Oklahoma's debt-collection system that routinely sends poor people to jail for failing to pay court fines and fees.

The Tulsa World reports that the federal lawsuit filed Thursday names the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association, every county sheriff in the state and Aberdeen Enterprizes, a private collections company.

File photo

Oklahoma’s state government has had its day in court several times over the past few years to defend new laws from constitutional challenges.

Attorney General Mike Hunter maintains all that litigation is not costing taxpayers a dime.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

There’s a lot of progress being made on the north side of A Gathering Place for Tulsa.

The 28,000 square foot Williams Lodge is really coming together now.

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